The Labour Party has a credibility problem due to its links with UK Uncut. That problem will grow as more shops are trashed. One response from the Labour blogosphere has been to pretend the problem doesn't exist.
On Labour List a blog defends Labour MPs supporting UK Uncut on the basis that the groups protest were peaceful. It is left ambiguous over whether the author still feels UK Uncut can be defended on that basis. Or whether he thinks it was understandable mistake when the Early Day Motion was signed. If the former then he can scarcely make a simultaneous complaint that suggestions of Labour support for UK Uncut are a smear. If the latter that he should consider that the EDM was tabled on December 6. The violence at the UK Uncut Topshop occupations were reported by the BBC on December 4 here. Perhaps the Labour MPs missed those news reports – then let them withdraw their names from that EDM.
The other effort was made to suggest that Ken Livingstone was in the clear regards supporting UK Uncut even though his conference had a speaker from that group. Don't conferences often have speakers with different views? But this was a rally not a debate. This was about Red Ken embracing UK Uncut among others and welcoming them to his "big tent." Building the "widest possible alliances" as it stated.
When the Labour MP Tessa Jowell realised the company she was in she pulled out. That was to her credit.
But what of David Lammy MP? Andrew Slaughter MP? Jon Trickett MP? Emily Thornberry MP? Jeremy Corbyn MP? Chukka Umunna MP? Are they all happy to be in "alliance" with UK Uncut. Apparently they all turned up.
Over on Labour Uncut, Dan Hodges says the problem should be faced up to. He makes the point the unions were at it as well.
Can the TUC be blamed?
They organised a brilliantly disciplined, massively attended, well stewarded event that would have been a model of labour movement mobilization if it hadn’t been for that pesky Laurie Penny and those kids at UK Uncut. Except that some guy called Brendan Barber signed a letter to the Guardian back in December arguing,
“instrumentalism is such a narrow view of what it means to be human and to be educated. That is why campaigns like UK Uncut, which links corporate tax avoidance to the rebalancing of our depleted public finances, are critical both morally and practically”.
For good measure Len McCluskey, Tony Woodley and Dave Prentis signed it as well.
Let’s drop the cant. Sooner or later, organizations like UK Uncut were always going to piss on Labour’s bonfire. But let’s also not forget it was us who first invited them to the jamboree and handed them a beer.
Labour's problem is not going to go away any time soon. Certainly not with Livingstone as their official Mayoral candidate. Is Ed Miliband a strong enough leader to face up to it? Does he even want to?